Before the weekend begins I will have turned 40. In the past few weeks I’ve thought about this new age, this new decade, this new beginning.
I thought back to my 30th birthday. I had 4 kids when I turned 30, the youngest had just celebrated his 1st birthday. My goal, the entire year leading up to my 30th birthday was to wear a bikini. I reached my goal and we celebrated at hotel with a waterpark attached. The kids had fun and I have fond memories of them going down the waterslides together and their soaking smiles!
Ten years later I can’t believe there was a time and yearn again for a time when the hardest thing was fitting into a bikini. Ten years is the amount of time it took our family to grow from six to eight; for 3 of our children to be diagnosed with a fatal and progressive disorder; for us to experience a miscarriage; for my husband and I to each lose a parent; and to experience the loss of a sibling. Ten years seems like a blink of the eye and it seems like an eternity.
I’ve grown and changed in 10 years. In some ways, I am the same and in others it is like that younger version of me never existed. I’m thankful for every experience because each one of them has shaped me into a person I am learning to accept, love, and be proud of. It took each of those experiences and many many others to get me closer to the person God is calling me to be. It reminds me of the quote by Saint Catherine of Siena, “Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire.”
I have struggled always with accepting who God is calling me to be; to see my value. I swallowed lies and I made them my truths. I grew up around church and with faith my entire life, but somehow along the way, I either never learned or swallowed another lie. I never believed that there was nothing I could do to earn more favor with God and that there was nothing I could do to fall out of favor with God. I am just now internalizing the love of our Father. It had always been there, but because I thought I was unworthy I wouldn’t accept it. Many experiences in my life were so lonely for me because I could not believe I was worthy of love.
Discovering the truth is changing me. I feel it kindling in my heart. I feel the chains of fear and self-loathing breaking and beginning to fall. I feel myself in the beginning of a warm embrace with my true and authentic self. I am going to let God put all my broken pieces back together and make something beautiful them with them. I am going to let the light shine through my cracks.
I am learning to accept who God is calling me to be. I accept that I will not be perfect and that God already knows when I’m going to mess up. I accept that he will love me still. I am learning to love God’s daughter, just as he always has. That kindle is going to spark as I answer God’s call and I will soon be warmed by the fire Saint Catherine of Siena talks about.
I am excited to turn 40! I am doing something I’ve never done before. I’m going to let people celebrate me. I am going to accept it and soak it all in. For the first time in 40 years I’m going to smile (hopefully without too many tears of gratitude leaking from my eyes), I’m going to hug my family and friends, and I am going to embrace the strong and gentle, open and sensitive loving person that I am not afraid to be.